Hey, Happy New Year! Pat yourself on the back, you survived 2021 (or. if you can’t reach pat yourself on your belly)! Remember this time last year when none of us were vaccinated? We’ve come a long way, baby!
As you well know, the Omicron Variant (sounds like a suspenseful movie, doesn’t it?) of COVID is upon us, our provincial government changed COVID protocols, and I know you always want to know how that translates for us.
We’re still open for in-store shopping, limiting store capacity to 3 groups of customers (so like 3 groups of two). We are not able to teach, and our ability to offer help is limited because we can’t have people lingering. We’ll be open until the government shuts down non-essential retail, or if I get sick. It’s really a crapshoot these days.
Get Masky With It
1. I’ll be honest, I think the days of cloth masks are over (see this easy-to-consume article from Life Hacker). Omicron is VERY contagious and we’re in medical mask territory now. The masks I order for us to wear in the store are ASTM level 3, K94, and N95, and you may have noticed that for the last month or so I’ve been layering and wearing two medical masks. We have lots of medical masks on hand in case you want to pop one on over whatever you are wearing.
2. Customers must be FULLY masked at ALL TIMES. This means all of the orifices you use for breathing are covered, at the same time, all the time. No sneaking your nose out for a peek! I wear a mask all day at work, I know first-hand how uncomfortable and inconvenient they can get. Or maybe you don’t believe that COVID is an issue, and you feel like sticking it to the man by sliding through a loophole. Perhaps you’ve slipped into that comfortable place of denial, where you know that half a mask is the same as no mask, but the emotional part of your brain saw other people doing it, so it decided it’s actually safe … brains are so complicated! The omicron variant is contagious BEFORE a person is showing symptoms, so when your breathing apparatus aren’t covered you are potentially giving and receiving COVID. So, whatever your beliefs are, you’re going to have to put them on hold and KEEP YOUR MASK ON.
If you aren’t properly masked you put us at risk, which is a problem for many reasons. The obvious one is that if we get COVID the store has to close … nobody wants that. Additionally, some of our family members have underlying health problems, so even though they are vaccinated getting COVID could still land them in the hospital. Finally, if you aren’t properly masked you are potentially exposing us, which means we can’t take our masks off at ANY time, which means we can’t eat or drink all day – and you do NOT want to see me hangry.
Wishing You A Healthy New Year!
This year I wish you a Healthy New Year, all year. Every year people make resolutions to do good things for their bodies, but if you want a healthy body, you’ve got to heal your mind and your soul – you can’t separate one out, they’re a trinity, inextricably interconnected. It’s time for us to start thinking about our mental health as an essential part of our overall maintenance. As we go through a fifth wave of uncertainty, I’ve been thinking about what we need to do to moving forward, and healing is what keeps coming up. I suspect everyone, in some capacity, has experienced some form of trauma from the pandemic experience, and the thing about trauma is that no matter how hard you cram it down in your mental trash compactor, it doesn’t go away – it festers and pops out at the least opportune times. It also doesn’t lay dormant, it’s either quietly (or not so quietly) working in the background, running in your subconscious, shaping your life.
You may have noticed that the pandemic trauma has brought other buried guck to the surface. Well, you know what they say – if it’s come out, then you’re ready for it and it’s time to deal with it. The problem is, mental health is so stigmatized that many people wait for a crisis to get help. You don’t need to wait to feel better, you deserve to feel good right now. You always have. And hey, remember that you’re not alone – now that everyone on the planet has experienced some pandemic-related trauma, you can be assured that you’re in excellent company!
One thing I find helps me with my beliefs and biases about my own mental health (besides a ton of therapy, medication, meditation, mindfulness, etc) is watching other people talk about theirs, which falls nicely in with my “what to watch while you’re at home knitting”. My absolute favourite is Lady Dynamite on Netflix. Comedian Maria Bamford fictionalized her own experience of living with Bipolar Disorder, and it’s HILARIOUS. I find her complete self-acceptance gorgeous and inspiring.
I also love What’s Your Ailment? (streaming on CBC Gem), also with Maria Bamford. Maria sits down and talks with a variety of people (mostly comedians, so it’s always funny), about their experiences with their mental health. Besides the laughs, I find it a great insight into other peoples’ experiences, especially with different kinds of mental challenges. I had no point of reference for what it’s like to live with panic disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, chronic pain, addiction, and it was interesting to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. You’ll find yourself in good company, plus you get to mine all those delicious insights into your own experience – which you can take back to therapy!
Finally, I liked The Me You Can’t See, streaming on Apple TV+. Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry (of the British royal family) have gotten together to make a short series about mental health (I know, it sounds pretentious, but it isn’t, the presentation is just slick). You get to see celebrities, high-profile people, as well as regular individuals talk about their mental health challenges, so you get to deal with your stuff while getting a peek into the lives of the rich & famous, which is always titillating. There’s an emphasis on trauma and its legacy for our mental health, but there’s also some good ole’ fashioned mood disorders and mental what-not thrown in. All of the stories are compelling and interesting, but I think it’s worth watching just to see Oprah engage with her personal understanding of trauma, both her own and others’ – she’s an incredibly interesting and grounded person. You’d expect the circumstances of Harry’s life would be hard to connect with, but his struggles are universal – he has a good portion of his mother in him.
If you just need to just experience the healing power of a good story, the new book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon just came out. At Christmas, my sister-in-law leaned over and in a low, conspiratorial tone said: “Have you read the new Outlander book yet? … I’m fifty hours in”. Shhhhhh, don’t let the menfolk know, it’s our little ladies secret.
I’m only about 4 hours in, and so far I haven’t heard from the bees, but it’s good background for crafting. If you haven’t read the other books in the series you’ll need to dive in at the start, but they’ve been out for a while and you can download them for free from your public library (mine is the Toronto Public Library). The narrator, Davina Porter, is exquisite, she’s in my top-five favourite audiobook narrators (can we talk about Jim Dale and the Harry Potter series? Drop. The. Mic.) You can also watch the Outlander TV show on Netflix, but they’ve only finished the 5th book.
And if you want some REALLY light stuff to take your mind off things, a friend referred me to The Vampire Knitting Club audiobooks. At the intersection of the supernatural and needle arts is a quaint little old-timey (fictional) knitting store, Cardinal Woolsey’s, located in historic Oxford, England. Twenty-something Lucy (who does not knit) is at a professional crossroads, and finds herself taking over her late grandmother’s knitting shop (as one does) … and mystery involving the not completely dead ensues. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get past the protagonist’s tidying the shop and taking inventory (I’m well past the romance of owning a knitting store), but my friend is a clever person so you can take her word for it that the book is fun. It’s also the first in a series of FIFTEEN books (or as the cover suggests, a “paranormal cozy mystery series”), so if you like it there’s lots more to keep you occupied.